Animal welfare prosecutions reported by the Scottish SPCA: 2011-2019

Findings of analysis of animal welfare case data collected by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.







6 Percentages are this authors own calculations based on Table 1 of the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (2017) report.



9 As defined by the Ministry of Justice offence code ‘108 – Cruelty to Animal’. A list of offences included in this category can be found on annual end of year publication webpage as an Excel spreadsheet named ‘Offence group classifications’.


11 Cuthbertson and Spencer (2017) refer to these as cases but as they use Ministry of Justice statistics to derive these figures which are produced at person level and not case level, it is likely that these figures are actually representing persons rather than cases.

12 In Scotland, the term defendant is not used to refer to the accused.

13 Figures from the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (2017) report may not represent all those convicted of animal welfare offences from the 2006 Act due to the methodology used by the Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services Division where figures represent only charges where animal welfare offences were the principle offence (see the Scottish Government Criminal Proceedings annual publications for more detail on this issue -

14 Centre for Crime Prevention (Cuthbertson and Spencer, 2017) report only.

15 House Bill 60, known as Goddard’s Law (Garett, 2019).

16 Appendix A shows the list of variables that were contained in each.

17 There is one charge with an offence date before this (1934) which most likely represents an error.

18 There are two charges with an offence date before this (1981 and 1989) which most likely represent an error.

19 This was seen from a quick ‘eyeballing’ of the two data files but no thorough investigation was carried out due to the time it would take for this analysis.

20 Histograms were used to establish normality through visual inspection, where a normal distribution follows a broadly Gaussian distribution, or bell curve.

21 As the postcode used to identify unique individuals may have been the postcode for where the offence took place rather than the accused’s address, it is possible that some persons may end up with more than one ‘person ID’ if they have been charged with offences occurring at multiple address’s. It is not possible to identify where this might have happened using this data, but means there may be less persons in the data than appears.

22 This may be higher due to the limitations faced establishing ‘unique persons’ using this data (see footnote 21).

23 This analysis is based on year of offence and may not be the same year in which a conviction was made.

24 X2=29.46, df=7, p<.001, Cramer’s V=.139

25 Includes those from 2019 due to small numbers (<5)

26 Includes wild animals and birds due to small numbers (<5)

27 We can only tell if a guilty plea was entered if this has been specifically stated in the result look up field. For some charges it is possible that such a plea was entered but is not recorded.

28Two of the charges resulted in an absolute discharge. When tried in Summary proceedings this does not result in a conviction.

29 Includes charges listed as dropped, deserted, abandoned, discontinued or dismissed.

30 Two charges were recorded as ‘other result’ and were classed as missing.

31 Includes a small amount of those with a verdict of not proven due to small numbers (<5)

32 Includes charges listed as dropped, deserted, abandoned, discontinued or dismissed.

33 Includes a small number of those where the case was dropped due to small numbers (<5)

34 Includes charges listed as dropped, deserted, abandoned, discontinued or dismissed.

35 Includes those with Prison time and Disqualification order due to small numbers (<5)

36 A charge was classed as having been sentenced in cumulo if the person and case ID and penalty were all the same. In theory, although not as likely, it is possible that some of these were actually different sentences with an individual given more than one sentence of the same type and amount.

37 This excludes a small number of charges where the accused was aged under 9 years on the offence date Excluding a small number with missing or erroneous dates (n=10).




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